Smoke and Mirrors.


Long time, no post. This week has just
been very monotonous, with a lot of classroom lectures. Plenty of PowerPoints…
very few practicals.

The tedium, however, was broken today.

“Don’t let it hit the ground!”

Sgt. Paulson walked out to the recruits
clustered near the burn building. We were bullshitting and fidgeting—wondering
if we’d be able to get out early today—when we raised our eyes to a
quickly-growing speck outlined in the blue sky. It was a hand light, tumbling
towards a mass of regulation blue. Like so many bridesmaids reaching for a
bouquet, a few managed to get their hands on it (I think we still managed to
drop one, though).

We had one goal this afternoon: to fill
the burn building with cosmetic smoke and then empty it out with fans and smoke
ejectors. The concepts of positive/negative pressure ventilation can be quickly
explained, but seeing them in action seemed to help solidify our understanding.

A small machine on the floor kicked into
overdrive, sending clouds of fake smoke swirling around us (we were in the
“kitchen” area of the burn building, if the two rusted-out stoves were any


Smoke began finding its own way to the remainder of the building,
and we walked around in a quick orientation of the various levels and rooms.

Back outside, we watched the Sergeant haul
an exhaust fan onto the window ledge from the inside of the second floor; when
turned on, smoke could thus be sucked out through those roaring fan blades.
Alternatively, you could pressurize the entire building with a fan aimed into a
doorway from outside and let it vent out the upper windows; either way
increases visibility for firefighters and helps clear the air for victims stuck


More on ventilation later, as it’s a
comprehensive topic that we’re not nearly done with (next week is all practical
instruction about ventilation and forcible entry).

The burn building is a fascinating setting
for pictures, just as a side note. The slight mist of a not-quite-fully
ventilated building, dark shadows cut by beams of light, and silhouettes of
recruits provide yet another surreal setting. Again, I felt like I was enclosed
in another world, but was able to step safely back into the afternoon sunlight
of my home planet.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

background image Blogger Img

Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Two Attitudes. | Raising Ladders
“Social Media Policy” How does it affect the bloggers?
[…] I know, I’ve held off on posting for a long time due to the social media policy our administration was holding people to. It was a difficult road to navigate—but I realized […]
2015-04-10 20:21:15
Phil Hayes
Gear Review: Blauer’s new tactical boots
Boa doesn't make the boots, they designed and license the lacing system. The Boa system has been around for a while now, it's pretty common on snowboard boots and some other sporting footwear. The boots are from Blauer, which is based in Boston.
2015-01-19 22:22:59
Captain Scott Hetrick
Gear Review: Blauer’s new tactical boots
Interesting that BOA is from my home town of Steamboat Springs, and they didn't approach our Fire Department to do a field test or even let us know that they were working on a duty boot. Small towns are funny sometimes. Captain Scott Hetrick Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue
2014-11-29 21:26:03
stephen miller
St. Baldrick’ Support a Fellow Brother Fighting Pediatric Cancer!
Great job, brethren ... be bald (bold) even off the fire ground.
2014-02-22 09:33:24
John Struve
St. Baldrick’ Support a Fellow Brother Fighting Pediatric Cancer!
As I read all the above I wondered "How does it work?" Are fire personnel asking for pledges from the public to be paid to this charity when the personnel have their heads shaved? The ad above was not clear to me. I will read it again. The charity is certainly a very worthwhile cause.…
2014-02-22 06:20:28

Alex Capece's Discussions

Follow Alex Capece
"For anyone who ever wanted to grow up and become a firefighter... from someone who did just that."
March 2009
« Feb   Apr »

FireEMS Blogs eNews

Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter